I just finished reading a book by Hank Hanegraaff called Christianity In Crisis. I would recommend it to anyone who struggles with the “Prosperity Gospel” that is so prevalent in Christian culture. In short, this doctrine states that faith is the force that produces material pleasures and frees us from all physical suffering in this life. What is fascinating about this teaching is the underlying web of theology faith healers must weave to support it.

Here are a few major ones as described in the book:

1. Faith is a force and words are the containers of the force. Thus, through the power of words, you create your own reality.  That means that the men and women of faith described in Hebrews 11 who “were stoned, sawn in two, tempted, slain with the sword and wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented…” must have created this reality through their own lack of faith-filled words.

2. The demotion of God. In “Prosperity Gospel” God is himself subject to the force of faith and cannot accomplish anything apart from it. He is at the beck and call of His creation, who control him with their faith.

3. The deification of man. In Faith theology, man was created as an exact duplicate of God, including size and shape! Some faith healers have gone so far as to say it is unnecessary to pray “if the Lord wills” or “in Jesus name.” We, as little gods, have the power to control our destiny through faith!

4. The demotion of Christ. All cults and world religions compromise the diety of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Faith movement is no exception, claiming that before Christ was annointed with the Holy Spirit, he was just a human like you and I. Therefore, any one of us could have done what Christ did if we have the annointing.

5. The Reincarnation of Christ. Faith Healers believe that salvation was not completed by Christ’s death on the cross. They believe that he was recreated from divine to demonic, taking on the very nature of Satan. He was then born again in Hell, and reincarnated from demonic to devine with the ressurection. The inevitable conclusion: When we are born again, we too are reincarnated from demonic to divine, becoming “as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth.”

Why is this theology so troubling? Because thousands of people (like the man born blind in John chapter 9) are led to believe that their suffering is the direct result of their sin. More disturbing is that many refuse to accept the help that is available to them through modern science for fear that they would lose their faith. They see their suffering as a punishment rather than a potential opportunity to grow closer to Christ and to others. Remember the words of God – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword…yet IN all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:35